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Quakes complete comeback against Crew in 2-2 draw

Chris Wondolowski scored a late equalizer, giving San Jose a chance to split the points with Columbus. Photo by Joe Nuxoll, Wondolowski scored a late equalizer, giving San Jose a chance to split the points with Columbus. Photos by Joe Nuxoll, View Gallery

Center Line Soccer's complete coverage includes a photo gallery of the match and post game audio interviews with coaches and players. 

(Santa Clara) The San Jose Earthquakes fought back twice from a goal deficit to tie the Columbus Crew 2-2 Wednesday night on a pleasant evening for soccer in the Bay Area. In a match that featured end to end attacks, the Quakes never gave up hope of finding a game winner, but were still satisfied to gain a point against the top club from the Eastern Conference.

First up was an Eddie Gaven goal in the 5th minute, immediately followed by an Arturo Alvarez equalizer a minute later, which highlighted a frenetic opening 10 minutes of action before most of the 8033 in attendance at Buck Shaw Stadium had settled in their seats.

Midway through the second half, Chad Marshall restored the Crew's lead with an uncontested header off a Guillermo Barros Schelotto corner kick. The Quakes were again quick to answer, as Chris Wondolowski headed home a free kick from Bobby Convey that was expertly flicked on to him by Scott Sealy.

For Wondolowski, the goal gives him 6 in 8 games since entering the starting line-up back on April 17th against the New England Revolution — a remarkable scoring streak for the Earthquakes fourth-choice forward entering the 2010 season.

Joe Cannon donned a baseball cap to block out the bright sunlight during the first half. View Gallery

The game did not start well for the home side, as the team were playing off their heels for the opening minutes. Even goalkeeper Joe Cannon was ill-prepared for the opening whistle, finding himself racing onto the field after the ball had already been kicked off. You see, with the Quakes playing into the setting sun, Cannon had run back to the bench to get a cap to shield the glare. Luckily for him, the head official restarted the game after letting Cannon take his place in goal.

In the fourth minute, Cannon was forced to make a body save on a close range header after Crew winger Robbie Rogers beat surprise-starter Steve Beitashour to a ball down the left side and served a perfect ball to midfielder Jason Garey.

A minute later, the early pressure from Columbus paid off as Schelotto fired a shot at a diving Cannon that rebounded back in the six-yard box. Garey pushed the loose ball toward the far post for midfielder Eddie Gaven to slot in for the early 1-0 Crew lead.

The Earthquakes did not need to wait very long to get on the scoreboard, as in the 6th minute, midfielder Arturo Alvarez, starting for the injured Joey Gjersten, sent a low left-footed shot just inside the goalpost for his second goal of the season.

In the 8th minute, Rogers received a well weighted pass that just eluded Beitashour, and he was off to the races against Cannon. The Quakes number one managed to get a hand to Rogers shot deflecting it skyward. The ball tantalizingly flew toward the goal, but just grazed over the crossbar and onto the top netting.

In the 11th minute, the Quakes had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Ryan Johnson and Wondolowski raced clear on the right side. However, as Johnson looked to pace back to his forward partner, all he saw was Wondo sprawled out on the turf, and his pass back was cleared by the Crew's Eric Brunner. On the ensuing counterattack, Rogers makes Beitashour and Bobby Burling look silly as he carries the ball deep into Earthquake territory. Rogers lays the ball off to Schelotto, who is tracked down by Jason Hernandez just in time to deflect his shot out for a throw in.

The end-to-end action did not let up, and the Earthquakes slowly started to look the better team as the first half went on. In the 20th minute, Johnson sent a nice cross toward Wondolowski in front of goal, but defender Gino Padula just gets a head to it, but fails to clear the ball away from danger. Convey meets the ball at the top of the area at a full volley, forcing Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer to palm the ball past the byline for a corner kick.

Bobby Convey continues to provide excellent service into the area. View Gallery

In the 27th minute, Convey sent a free kick into a congested Crew area that Brandon McDonald leapt high to head toward goal. But, his shot flashed just wide of the far post, and the game remained tied at one apiece.Two minutes later, it was Johnson's turn to test the Crew ‘keeper. After Ramiro Corrales sent a long throw-in down the left side for Convey, the Quakes assist leader sent a pass into the run of Johnson. Taking a touch to center himself in the penalty area, the Quakes striker put a great shot on goal that was expertly parried away by Hesmer to preserve the 1-1 tie.

After withstanding some pressure from the Crew, the Earthquakes were right back on the attack in the 38th minute after a turnover near midfield by Schelotto. Convey took the errant pass and streaked down the left touchline where he looked up to see Johnson open in the area. Convey's cross was desperately cleared by Marshall, but only as far as the top of the penalty area. An opportunistic Wondolowski took a crack at goal, but disappointingly sent his shot high of the target.

The Crew continued to find their best avenues of attack through the speed of Rogers on the left wing. Having beaten Beitashour on numerous occasions in the first half, the Quakes resorted to fouling the U.S. International in an attempt to slow him down. Over the last five minutes of the half, both Wondolowki and Burling received yellow cards for their efforts to take Rogers out of his game.

The second half picked up right where the first 45 minutes left off, with both teams finding quality scoring opportunities. Rogers was first to try to break the deadlock, as he skied a shot over the goal after being gifted a ball from a Burling defensive mistake. Rogers was at it again in the 49th minute as he raced down the left wing with a pass from Schelotto. This time, shooting from a tight angle instead of bringing the ball back across goal, he sent the ball high and wide and into the stands.

In the 51st minute, the Earthquakes had their best chance of the second half, when McDonald tried his luck from far range. Hesmer was not bothered by the shot, and he watched the ball go wide left of the goal.

Around the two-thirds point in the match, both teams brought in fresh legs in an effort to break the 1-1 tie. Emmanuel Ekpo and Steven Lenhart replaced Emilio Renteria and Garey for the Crew, while Cornell Glen and Scott Sealy replaced Johnson and Alvarez for the Earthquakes.

The game began to bog down over this stretch in no small part due to the head official slowing down play with a quick whistle. Furthermore, he would then spend time conversing with the players or the bench about the calls, grinding the pace of the game to a near standstill.

Cornell Glen on a breakaway runs from a swarm of Crew defenders. View Gallery

Finally, the action began to pick up again in the 67th minute, when Glen audaciously tried to take on 5 defenders in a run toward goal. He did get off a shot that was comfortably saved by Hesmer, but it did seem to wake up the players after the short spell of slow play.Columbus finally broke through in the 70th minute after Cannon gifted them a corner kick by punching a high arcing Rogers cross over the byline. Schelotto lined up the kick, and picked out an unchallenged Marshall in the center of the penalty area. He expertly headed the ball inside the near post for the 2-1 Columbus lead.

The Earthquakes did not give up, and in much the same manner that they sent players forward in last weekend's match against Toronto FC, pushed back Columbus looking for the equalizer. In the 77th minute, a long pass from Convey found Wondolowski in the penalty area, but his header from in between two defenders harmlessly went out for a goal kick.

Two minutes later, after Convey had earned a free kick far on the left side of the field after being leveled by Crew defender Jed Zayner, the Quakes erased their second one-goal deficit of the evening. Convey sent an outswinging ball toward the near post, where Sealy managed to out jump two defenders to get a touch on the ball toward the far post. Waiting there, without a defender to impede his sight of the goal, was Wondolowski, who calmly headed the ball into the net.

Chris Wondolowski celebrates his equalizer. View Gallery

The Earthquakes looked hungry for more, and shifted their line-up to more of a 3-4-3 in an effort to create more offense. Unfortunately, the move nearly backfired, as the Crew came close to retaking the lead in the 85th minute. Taking a ball near midfield, Rogers dribbled down the left side with Quakes players doing their best to chase him down. As Rogers entered the area, he had a clear chance to pass a ball back to Schelotto trailing the play. Instead, Rogers appeared to send the ball toward the far post, beating Cannon but sliding just past the goal. Not quite on target and just out of the reach of Schelotto for the sure tap-in goal. All those in the stadium cheering on the home team let out an audible sigh or relief.As the game entered stoppage time, the Crew had the last best opportunity to take all three points from the match. In the 91st minute, Schelotto found space on the right side of the Quakes penalty area to slide a cross into the advancing Lenhart. Making the right decision, Cannon dived forward from his line to catch the ball before the Crew striker could get his foot on it. Two minutes later and the final whistle sounded on the 2-2 draw.

Overall, the match was the most exciting of the season for the Earthquakes. Nearly a full 90 minutes of back and forth action, with quality scoring chances and goals from both teams. The Quakes again showed a lack of complete scoring ability, and even showed some cracks in their defensive back four, but the effort was well deserving of a point against the best team from the East.

Perhaps in 2008 or 2009 this game ends in a rout for the Crew -- like last season's 3-0 loss at Candlestick -- but not this year. The Earthquakes are finally showing the resolve to never give up when trailing against a quality opponent that was lacking in previous seasons. They almost came back last weekend to equalize against TFC; this time they completed the job.

• • • 

San Jose Earthquakes (5-3-2) vs. Columbus Crew (6-1-3)
June 2, 2010 -- Buck Shaw Stadium
Attendance: 8,033

Scoring Summary: CLB -- Eddie Gaven (Jason Garey) 5; SJ -- Arturo Alvarez (Andre Luiz) 6; CLB -- Chad Marshall (Guillermo Barros Schelotto) 70; SJ -- Chris Wondolowski (Scott Sealy, Bobby Convey) 78.

Misconduct Summary: SJ -- Chris Wondolowski (caution) 40; SJ -- Bobby Burling (caution) 43; CLB -- Jed Zayner (caution) 55; CLB -- Eric Brunner (caution) 62.

San Jose Earthquakes -- Joe Cannon, Ramiro Corrales, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling (Ike Opara 76), Steven Beitashour, Bobby Convey, Brandon McDonald, Andre Luiz, Arturo Alvarez (Cornell Glen 59), Ryan Johnson (Scott Sealy 60), Chris Wondolowski.

Statistics: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 5; Fouls: 16; Offsides: 7; Corners: 7.

Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Gino Padula, Chad Marshall, Eric Brunner, Jed Zayner, Robbie Rogers, Brian Carroll, Jason Garey (Steven Lenhart 65), Eddie Gaven, Emilio Renteria (Emmanuel Ekpo 59), Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Statistics: Shots: 11; Shots on Goal: 6; Fouls: 13; Offsides: 1; Corners: 5.